Austin, Continued

Sunday morning dawned overcast with the skies threatening to weep at any moment. We needed something cheery and comforting to begin the day after a night of fierce storms. I had heard about Mozart’s Coffee and decided to give it a try. My friend and I were pleasantly surprised by the enormous amount of seating outside, where you could bask in a peaceful lakeside repose while sipping your morning (or afternoon or evening) joe.

We went from there to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where we were met by my other friends who had spent the morning in a more saintly way by attending a local church service. The overcast skies suddenly became a blessing as we were able to walk around without worrying about being scorched by the intense South Texas sun.

After getting our fill of blooming wildflowers and fields resembling the Texas prairie, we headed back into town and to Perla’s on South Congress. Having seen rave reviews of their lobster roll, we were all eager to give it a try. The wait was intense, but the outdoor dining was very nearly worth it. Gingham-clad servers rushed around blue and white picnic tables with plates of lobster rolls and fries, giving the feel that we were in a coastal town on the Atlantic seaboard rather than in the center of Texas.

The lobster roll was good, but still not quite a match for what you can get at Neptune Oyster (Boston) or at my favorite, Abbott’s Lobster (Connecticut). But if you’re craving lobster roll, you won’t miss ordering this one. The fries were scarily addicting, too.

IMG_7645That evening the skies were clearing and we decided to go see the infamous bats on the Congress Ave. bridge. I was grateful to be with friends who weren’t scared by the fact that 1.5 million bats were sleeping below us as we waited for their nightly exit.

So famous is the bats’ ritual that the bridge became quite crowded with visitors eager to witness it.

We waited and waited. We watched kayaks. And waited. Then we watched the river boats as they lined up for the bat viewing. And waited some more. At long last, as a heavy dusk fell into place and the bats began their dramatic exit for their evening meal. They flew up and away from the bridge, which meant that we had to lean over to see them. Which was actually hard to do with the crush of people around us trying to do the same thing. Then we lost sight of the bats as they immediately disappeared into the nearby treeline.

If I do this again, I will utilize the Austin-American Statesman viewing area, a lawn at the river’s edge which afforded onlookers a better view of the bats. Although free, be prepared to pay a nominal parking fee at the viewing area. Oh, and arrive plenty early, whether you plan on viewing from the bridge or in the adjoining viewing area.

Memorial Day dawned dreary and soggy, but my friend and I decided to attempt a donut and coffee anyway. We went to my favorite, Seventh Flag Coffee, and then took our lattes across the street to the enormously popular Gourdough’s for a decadent breakfast.

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Chocolate+strawberries+glaze+donut = oh my gosh sugar high

Sugared and caffeinated, we betook ourselves to the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Although a native Texan, there was much I didn’t know about the Lone Star State and enjoyed learning about the people and events that have shaped Texas history.

Rain, rain, go away or I’ll need another latte…

By the time we were finished it was not just raining outside, it was a drenching, flooding, waterfall from the sky. We went in search of a late lunch and ended up at the Snack Bar on South Congress. Our original destination was Hopdoddy’s, a delicious burger bar, but the line was wrapped around the building and flashes of lightning were ripping the sky, so we opted for a restaurant with a safer wait option. We ended up at the nearby Snack Bar, a quiet and relaxed restaurant specializing in fresh food from local providers. The rain was so heavy that we were quite soaked by the time we walked there (a few short blocks from Hopdoddy’s) and we looked as though we had just taken a plunge in the lake, and I was chilled enough to need a warm beverage. (I highly recommend the Nutella latte at this place. Perfect rainy day antidote!).

We had thought that the rain would slow, as most rains do, but this one only became worse. Our drive back to the apartment looked like this:

Our visibility was so limited that we crawled much of the way, and we watched as rescue vehicles passed us pulling boats. Upon reaching my friend’s apartment, we were surprised to discover ankle-deep water that we slogged through to get to the door, and which lapped threateningly at the doorstep. The news blared stories of intense, deadly flooding around Austin and in other parts of Texas. I was worried that my flight out would be cancelled but thankfully it was only delayed, and that even not by the rain (which had finally stopped by then) but because of storms in the South, requiring all planes to take off in the opposite direction which subsequently clogged the runway. This was my first time at Austin-Bergstrom airport, and it immediately won me over with this:

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It’s a BookPeople store! I apologize for the terrible photo (I’d like to see anyone get a better one when you’re fighting a very crowded area with people rushing around you or sitting wherever they can find space while waiting for delayed flights). It was madness, ya’ll. But this place soothed my book-loving soul.

Even with the crazy weather it was still a great weekend, full of fun times with sweet friends and unexpected adventures. Now to plan my return trip…

Until next time… xo

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